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Homelessness Duty to Refer

The Homelessness Reduction Act came into effect in April 2018. As part of the amendments it made to the Housing Act 1996, it introduced a new duty on professionals and public sector organisations to make a referral for homelessness assistance to a local housing authority, on behalf of service users, who might be homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

The specified Public Authorities under this new duty to refer are:

  • prisons
  • young offender institutions
  • secure training centres
  • secure colleges
  • youth offending teams
  • probation services (including community rehabilitation companies)
  • Jobcentres in England
  • social service authorities (both adult and children’s)
  • hospital emergency departments
  • urgent treatment centres
  • hospitals in their function of providing inpatient care
  • Secretary of State for defence in relation to members of the regular armed forces

Public authorities are required to ensure that:

  1. They notify a local authority about the person they think is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, giving them the opportunity to decide which local authority they wish to approach;
  2. They obtain the express consent of the person they are referring, before completing a referral.

To complete a duty to refer on behalf of somebody who might be homeless or threatened with homelessness, please complete a referral form.

As part of the referral process, please ensure key information about the person being referred is provided, such as name, address, contact details e.g. telephone number and/or email address. In addition, an overview of the person’s current housing circumstances, alongside an address history covering five years and any other relevant medical or support information would help to progress the referral quickly.